Motivational speaker delivers powerful message in school-wide event

Motivational Speaker Timothy Alexander speaks to the student body during a second period motivational talk today in the Perry Center. Alexander talked about his journey growing up and continuously reminded students of the life lessons that have shaped his experience. Alexander gave the student a piece of advice. “What am I saying this year [is] that when you get ready to grow through the days that you’re going through, I challenge you to stick with what you choose to do,” Alexander said. “When it comes down to commitment, ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to understand that commitment allows you to think about what you tell yourself when no one’s around.” (Photo: Benjamin Grimes)

Students and staff are praising a heartfelt speech from motivational speaker Timothy Alexander today in the Peery Family Center, intending to brace students for the start of the new school year, according to principal Brent Kline.

“I hope it did everything that he talked about, that it gave students courage and a sense of purpose,” Kline said. “Just kind of a direction of where they want to go and what they want to get out of.”

The event started with an introduction by senior football captain Va’inga Mahe.

“I was actually approached by Mr. Kline last week during practice about introducing TA [Timothy Alexander] to the whole school,” Mahe said. “I got to know him yesterday … and I really just thought he was cool.”

Mahe said Alexander’s passion is an inspiration for the school, and for him as a football player.

“I can kind of relate to most of it, so it kind of inspired me to go harder, go bigger [towards] my dreams,” Mahe said.

Over the course of an hour, Alexander shared the challenges he faced throughout his career, referencing both his personal journey as a student-athlete growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, and his experiences losing family in an impoverished environment.

“My house burned down my senior year in high school,” Alexander said. I lost every little thing we had. My senior year of high school my grandmother passed, and on top of what was supposed to be one of the best seasons of my life, my brother died in a car coming back to watch me play.”

At the age of 17, Alexander was involved in a severe car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. 

“I went from being the top of the town because I was a star athlete to be at the top of the town because doctors were saying I’ll never walk again, I’ll never talk again. I’ll never be able to do anything on my own,” Alexander said.

Despite the hardships he faced, Alexander emphasized always staying positive.

“Life may be difficult, things may happen that you have no control over,” Alexander said. “But if you want to be resilient, the definition of resiliency is the capacity to respond or recover quickly from difficulty or misfortune.”

Alexander described how despite the drastic situation, he persevered with support from family.

Following his accident, Alexander made a slow recovery, but still had aspirations of following his dream of playing professional football.

 “I wrote a letter to the University of Alabama in Birmingham that started off by saying going to the NFL is not a priority for me anymore,” Alexander said. “I’m now playing for someone greater than you and I. I will be one of the best players in football history to ever come through the University of Alabama and Birmingham and I would never touch the field.“

Alexander ended the speech with a heartfelt message to the Paly community.

“What you are, is what you become is all based on how you use your time,” Alexander said. “That’s why young today is the past. Tomorrow is the future, today’s the gift, which is what we call the present time. And so the best present you can open up for your life and live within every single day is being appreciative is working hard for what you want.”

All students from every grade level were required to attend the talk with students being split into two separate groups going at different times throughout second period.

Junior Hannah Jensen said that the experience was meaningful for the student body.

“I thought that a lot of students needed to hear it [the speech] and that it[his advice] is just the fact of life,” Jensen said. “He has a great mindset that I hope a lot of students today adapt to or take it into consideration because truly it is the best mindset to have.”

According to Kline, he believes students will benefit from the speech and he has hope for the future school year ahead.

“You[the students] bring life to Paly just by your presence,” Kline said. “You’re awesome attitude and the way that you treat each other I was definitely impressed by everything — I want to see that every day.”